Bucs' Nicks excited for healthy return Sunday
Barring any late setbacks, the Bucs will have Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks in the starting lineup for Sunday's game at New England, the first time that he and fellow guard Davin Joseph have lined up together in their two season in Tampa Bay.
"If nothing new happens, no setbacks, I think I'm good to go," Nicks said after Friday's practice. "It feels really good to get back to work, to feel like I'm contributing to the team, not feeling useless. It's a real good feeling. I'm hiding it well, but I'm very excited."
Nicks has been sidelined by a foot injury -- and for a time, a frightening MRSA infection -- and sat out the Bucs' first two games as he recovered, but said he never was concerned he would be sidelined much longer than he has been.
"The MRSA thing happened so fast, and with the toe, I always just assumed I'd come back," he said. "So I never really doubted. It just took a lot longer than I thought."
Asked if he is in condition to play a full game, Nicks said he was optimistic, but wouldn't know until he's on the field.
"That's the plan," he said. "We're going to find out. You guys will see sooner than I will if I'm gassed out there."
Nicks said he's looking forward to going up against defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who he called a Hall of Famer.
"He's a great athlete, surprisingly. People look at him, they wouldn't think how quick he is, how fast he is, how strong he is, but he's a complete d-tackle," Nicks said.
He joins the team with a sense of urgency, knowing that as difficult as it would be to beat the Patriots on the road, it's crucial the team get its first win as soon as possible to start building momentum in the right direction.
"No one wants to be 0-3, and we're hungry for our first W," he said. "I don't know if there's a sense of urgency. We have to dot the i's and cross the t's and do what you're supposed to do. I think if we do all that, if we execute and don't turn the ball over, we should win."
Nicks joked that he's hoping his presence will help running back Doug Martin, who can help him in unexpected ways.
"I've got him on one of my fantasy teams. I told the guys 'You're not helping me out much,' but last game he did really good, so hopefully we'll get in the end zone more and help me out, too. Doug's a fantastic running back. Hopefully we can do big things."